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AI & Automation: How to mitigate the impact of cyber attacks

How AI can help monitor and track healthcare data to mitigate the impact of cyber attacks

There was a fine balance between health technology services, risk, and security before 2020. Some would say that this balance was nothing of the sort, that the entire healthcare life sciences industry has been accepting far too many cybersecurity risks for far too long. Healthcare providers, pharmaceutical and clinical research organizations have all been targeted by cyber attacks and intellectual property theft for at least a decade, most recently by a number of nation-states all in search of data on COVID-19 cures. The healthcare industry has not fared well against a well funded and highly motivated cadre of cyber thieves and extortionists.

Pandemic Induced Changes

COVID-19 this year has forced massive digital transformation upon HDOs in order to spin-up telehealth and telemedicine plans to diagnose and treat patients from their homes rather than on-premises, while at the same time, support a non-clinical workforce all working remotely from home.

The threat surface doubled over night and the number of risks and their severity increased dramatically. These opportunistic cyber attacks are taking advantage of healthcare CEOs being focused upon pandemic disease management, treating COVID patients, and keeping HDOs financially afloat without their lucrative elective procedures - a throw-back and lasting legacy of the "pay per service" model of US healthcare. In order to stop the hemorrhaging within HDO's, IT and in some cases security staff were furloughed. This in turn caused these HDOs to suddenly become exceedingly vulnerable to cyber-attack at precisely the worst possible time. 

AI in Healthcare

With a steady stream of new technologies to support telehealth, and the replacement of nursing staff with medical devices to monitor and manage patients remotely as far as possible, how are hospital security leaders possibly going to protect healthcare IT and IoT systems from attack and keep patients safe?

With limited budgets and security headcount (or the availability of additional security resources), automation and increased use of artificial intelligence is a CISO's only recourse. From a defense position, automation of cyber risk remediation and mitigation can only be beneficial. Even beyond the capabilities of AI to address cyber attack, AI is also being used to compile data in medical research to drive results and create new solutions to improve the human condition. 

Strategic planning for a digital future driven by AI is the only way forward. This was the subject of my panel discussion recently at the Denver AI & Automation Security Forum where I was privileged to moderate a panel of experts in the field including:

  • Dr. Benoit Desjardins, M.D., Ph.D, Associate Professor of Radiology and Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Michael Archuleta, CIO at Mount San Rafael Hospital
  • Powell Hamilton, CISO at Centaura Health
  • Esmond Kane, CISO at Steward Health
  • Joe Searcy, CSO at Elemental Health

Watch the full expert discussion:


Learn more about the role of AI in Healthcare